We come again in this teaching to another interlude (the second of a number that is found scattered throughout the Book of Revelation). Chapters 4 and 5 both served as an interlude to bridge the gap between the events following the letters to the Seven Churches, in order to prepare the reader for the opening of the Seven Seals in chapter 6. Six seals have thus far been opened, with the seventh seal yet still to be opened. Seals 1-5 had as their focus, Antichrist and his wrath upon the earth. Seals 6 & 7 by way of contrast, have as their focus, God and His wrath upon the earth which is poured out upon rebellious man and the 666 Antichrist system. This seventh chapter that is before us this evening (the gap-stop) serves then as an interlude which will allow for commentary on two events before rejoining the seal events of chapter 8 which record the opening of the seventh and final seal, and the terrifying trumpet judgments that issue forth out of it.
What then are these two events contained within this interlude? Firstly, a group of a special class of people, numbering 144,000 who shall be on the earth during this time of Great Tribulation. Secondly, a great multitude of Saints in heaven which no man can number who have come out of Great Tribulation. In this teaching, we look at both and try to understand what is taking place.
One author dubbed this Church as “the Church of which there was nothing good to say”. Christ had the right to find His people burning in their love, devotion and service to Him, yet when He came He found a people that were neither hot nor cold. What was the crime of the Laodiceans? The sin of being lukewarm!! Oh dear brethren, this chilling reality is that this describes MOST professing believers in the West!! Moderate Christianity, which by definition is a lukewarm Christianity has become the accepted norm in the majority of Western Churches, yet our Lord said on account of this, He was about to vomit His Church out of His mouth!!
This sermon is a sobering warning to guard our hearts against indifference in the matters of Christ. Laodicea, like the Western Church was incredibly wealthy and what many thought to be their blessing proved to be their undoing!! When a people become rich, indifference and apathy sets in. To this end we must guard our hearts so as not to allow our outward prosperity to become the measure of our spiritual prosperity!!
Twenty-eight miles south-east of Sardis lay the city of Philadelphia; so named after Attalus Philadelphus, the king of Pergamos who founded it in the second century BC. Its name means “brotherly love and is a fitting name for a Church that would later be born in that city! Its natural geography served well to illustrate the robustness of this Church in bearing up under trial. Subject to frequent earthquakes, being laid waste by one just less than a century before this epistle was written, this hardy city bounced back with a greater vibrancy than before! If there was one name that best describes the Church in Philadelphia it would be the word “faithful”. As a Church, they had remained faithful during trial and persecution and had persevered despite having little strength and had not denied Christ’s name. For this they were praised by the Saviour!
This sermon is an exhortation to Christians to bear up under trial and to do so keeping their eyes steadfast on the One who reveals Himself as holy and true! Many Christians under trial and difficulty often ask the question why? Many grow cold and bitter towards God through offence. If God is God, why does He not answer my prayers? Yet for the Christian under trial, they must never forget the goodness and trustworthiness of a sovereign God who keeps covenant with His children! Be of good cheer dear Saint and keep your eyes on Jesus. Say not I have no strength, for His strength is made perfect in your weakness!!
Sardis was a great city of the ancient world, a very wealthy and prosperous city. Into this city came the Gospel and the Church at Sardis was born!! The fame of their conversion and the fruits thereof were sounded out near and far, and overtime Sardis had amassed a reputation for being a Church that was alive!! Sadly, overtime the testimony of this Church had become nothing more than a label; still having repute before men, the spiritual condition of this Church was a far cry from what it was in their former days, our Lord tells us that they were now dead!
This sermon is a serious challenge to flee from sin and a solemn warning against hypocrisy!! The Lord is seeking one thing from the backslider, namely that he might return to Him in true brokenness and repentance. The hour is late and urgent is the day that we are living in. Dear Brethren, it’s no time for religious hypocrisy, we must at all costs seek to keep our garments unsoiled from this world and walk before our God with a clean heart.
Despite the many hard things that our Lord had to say to His Church in Thyatira, it is often overlooked that He had some of the best things to say also to some within this Church who were shining examples. He commended them for their charity, service, faith, patience and works. In fact not only had this Church begun well, but they were praised that their last works were more than their first!! Yet, despite this, our Lord reserved some of His harshest words to those within the Church at Thyatira who had tolerated the false prophetess Jezebel, who was seducing God’s children, causing them to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
This sermon is a strong and passionate plea on two counts. Firstly an exhortation to practical Christianity and holiness and secondly a warning to flea sexual immorality!! Christianity Today in a 2000 survey found that 45% of Christians admitted to having done something sexually inappropriate while married, with 23% committing adultery!! Literally, there is an epidemic of sexual immorality that has swept into the Church with 1 in every 2 Christian men falling prey to pornography. If ever there was a need for sexual purity within the Body of Christ, it is now!!
This sermon is the third part in a series looking at the letters to the seven Churches of Revelation. Pergamos was a city distinguished as being one of the chief centres of religious worship, its landscape littered with shrines and altars to the false gods and goddesses of the Greek/Roman world. In the words of Jesus Christ, the seat of Satan himself!! As a Church under intense persecution from the dragon Satan, it was bearing up faithfully under severe trial and holding fast the name of Jesus Christ. However, that said, whilst our Lord praised them for their faithfulness, He rebuked those within Pergamos for allowing and holding to the doctrine of Balaam who cast a stumbling block before God’s people to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
This sermon is a warning and a challenge to the body of Christ to be on guard against false teachers, who secretly bring in false and damnable heresies, even denying the Lord Himself. How will the body of Christ discern such false prophets? By their fruits you shall know them; for such are they that draw away after themselves unstable souls, alluring them through the lusts of the flesh. Is there a root of covetousness in your heart? Are you still enamoured by the love of this world? Are you prepared so as to resist the strategies of the serpent, who even now is deceiving many, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness?
This sermon is the second part in a series looking at the letters to the seven Churches of Asia Minor. The Church in Smyrna was a Church under fire! They were already in the midst of tribulation and were patiently bearing up under trial, suffering persecution and poverty. Our Lord’s words to this Church were words of encouragement, having no bad thing to say. He forewarned His Church in Smyrna that there was yet to face them a greater trial than that which they were already enduring and exhorted them to remain faithful unto death, that after they have suffered, they might receive a crown that shall not be taken away!!
This sermon is a warning and a challenge to the body of Christ in the West. Are you prepared for the coming wave of persecution? Already we see the storm gathering momentum. The homosexual agenda is being driven at a thundering pace and in the name of “tolerance” and on the back of Islamic terrorism, the stage is being set for the widespread persecution of Christian believers deemed extremists by the state, for daring to call what God calls good and declare as evil, that what God declares to be evil. This sermon is a challenge to all believers; is your all on the altar for Jesus Christ or are there things in our lives that we love more than Him?
This sermon marks the first part in a series looking at the letters to the seven Churches of Asia Minor. These seven epistles comprise less than 1% of the New Testament and yet are some of the most powerful words in the New Testament. We need not wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus to see how we fair; we have the Lord’s verdict already!! These seven epistles are applicable to the universal Church of Jesus Christ worldwide in every generation and it is imperative that we judge ourselves according to the words spoken to these Churches.
The Church in Ephesus had both a commendation and a rebuke from our Lord. Commended for their standing fast in the truth of God’s Word and contending against false teachers and self-professing Apostles; yet rebuked for their lack of love for Christ and His Church!! This sermon is an exhortation for believers to contend earnestly for the truth and purity of doctrine and a warning to not allow the love of Christ in our hearts to wax cold!! How are you faring in these two areas? May this sermon serve to challenge and motivate you dear Saints of God!!